Lane Lewis: A Blue Texas Takes More Than Talk

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Below is the speech delivered by HCDP Chairman Lane Lewis at the County Executive Committee Meeting on February 2nd, 2013.  The full speech can be found at  

A little over a year ago I came to you and asked for your support.  During that meeting of the CEC I laid out a vision for a Democratic Party that was bold.  A vision that was inspiring.  A vision that would put this party on new footing.

I can say a year later that this party is stronger than at any time before.  We have made progress toward the vision I laid out in December of 2011, but we have only started on the road to turning all of Texas competitive.

2012 was a good year.

No one at HCDP will claim to have re-created the rubric for how to run campaigns, but they will claim to having been focused on the goal of talking to a universe of targeted voters. It was this – with the help of some amazing candidates, elected officials, donors, staff and nearly 1,000 unique volunteers – that enabled the HCDP Campaign to be effective and deliver results for our candidates.

Our program delivered 36,000 door knocks, 890,000 calls made from nine offices county-wide, and, for the first time, a vote by mail program was instituted that made us competitive with the Republicans.  And all of this helped our candidates and President Obama win Harris County!  

These are not things that happen by accident or in a vacuum. Programs like these require planning, resources, and a commitment that this is the new way to operate. It requires a belief that organizing does not end on Election Day, but rather is a year-long process despite even or odd numbered years.

This was something I talked about in detail over a year ago.  I said that we must change the culture of this party, and of Democrats in this state as a whole.   We cannot sit idle and congratulate ourselves for a job well done for the next year and expect to win in 2014.

We cannot ignore the lessons learned over this long campaign season and let them sit idle on a shelf if we want more wins in 2014.

We cannot let the Houston municipal elections pass us by without using them as a chance to organize…test strategies…and work to engage voters…if we want to send Rick Perry, Greg Abbot and David Dewhurst packing in 2014!

Talk is cheap; actions speak volumes about the integrity of a person and their desire to see results.

Actions are what propelled us through 2012.  Actions are what got volunteers to our nine regional offices.

Actions are what got you and activists across the county to donate your hard earned dollars to the party.

And your actions were the energy that kept me hopeful in the closing weeks of the campaign, and are what make me optimistic about the year that is to come.

2012 was a good year.  2013 is merely an extension of 2014 – and the question is: Are you ready to act TODAY so that we can ensure victory in November 2014?                                                

Because I am ready.

I am ready for the rhetoric to meet the road.  It is easy to preach about organizing every day of the year during a presidential campaign.  It is easy to do it when we are running phone banks and radio ads, when we are investing in the sheriff's race or when we are sending out emails asking for support.

But without the sharp urgency of defeat or victory staring us in the face, it is a challenge to motivate and mobilize.  That is our challenge, but I am ready.  That is your challenge; are you ready?

2013 will be a year that we test this theory.  2013 will be the year that we work with the goal of keeping Harris County blue, electing a Democratic governor and setting the course for making Texas a competitive state for presidential candidates.

So far this year we have launched a new website, one which gives each of us in this room the tools to be activists.  This new website, a platform for engagement beyond the typical site, will allow precinct chairs, clubs, and the rank and file work every day for our party.

Later this year, we will launch a Spanish website.  And that is more than talk – that is action.

We are also launching a program called Engage 365. Under this program we will work to become civically engaged in communities across Harris County.  Whether we are working on cleaning vacant lots or putting on a health fair, we will continue to demonstrate our commitment through engagement.  And that is more than talk – that is action.

And this year we will work to fund a full time Director of Organizing.  Someone that the party will have on staff, in election years and not, to make sure we are working 365 days a year with the goal of winning elections and keeping Harris County blue.  We do not want to staff down this year, we want to staff up.  And that is more than talk – that is action.

And right now, during the month of February, we are working to sign up 250 sustaining members.  Our sustaining memberships are the backbone of this party.  Your monthly contributions keep the lights on, the rent paid and the phones answered.  It is critical to our long-term success that we build on this program, and that is why the month of February is dedicated to this important task.  And that is more than talk – that is action.

Democrats, this will not be easy.  At times we grow complacent.  All of us in this room, myself included, are guilty of thinking that the next election is far away and thus not a priority.  Let us all disabuse ourselves of that notion.

Let us commit today to work 365 days a year.  To work each and every day.  To think about 2014, 2016, and a blue Texas.

Thank you for your work.  Thank you for your commitment.  And thank you for helping lay the groundwork for a strong Harris County Democratic Party.


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